Relationship With Russia Is Tested
Despite the close ties of Russia and Belarus,
the two countries clashed over imported Russian gas in early 2007. In Dec.
2006, Russia doubled the price of gas it exported to Belarus, and then
imposed a large duty on oil exports. In response, Belarus imposed a tax on
Russian gas in Jan. 2007. Russia then shut off an oil export pipeline to
Europe (which spelled trouble for Europe, since half of all European
exports of Russian gas are transported through Belarus). By mid-January,
Russia agreed to cut its oil duty and Belarus agreed to cut its tax.
In September 2008, President Alyaksandr
Lukashenka won all 110 seats in parliamentary elections, but European
monitors criticized the flawed counting system in Belarus.